15th to 17th Position
In our ongoing review of the Premiership which finished in a blaze of goals last week, we are reviewing by giving marks out of ten to how each team did in the league over the course of the season. Here are the teams that staved off relegation but have heaps of work to do for next season.
15th place. Swansea City. 7 out of 10. Odds on to go down after Christmasby which time they would have been reviewed with a 4 out of 10, the board decided things must change and out went Bob Bradley the American manager who really wasn’t given a fair crack of the whip. In came manager number 3 for the season Paul Clement, a rather surprising choice who surprised us all nonetheless by putting a bit of steel into a back line that previously a trout could have found the net with. Clement bought a bit more effort into the team aided by a couple of January transfer window buys and through a bit of toil, acres of hard work and a different attitude changed the mindset of the team and got them out of the bottom three. Even as the season was nearing it’s conclusion it was always going to be either Swansea or Hull City that was going to go down however 4 wins from the final 5 games and the other a draw ensured safety with two games to play and a solid base to improve on for next season. Llorente looked head and shoulders above anyone else in the team and will no doubt move on. He scored 15 of their goals and the only player to come close to him was Sigurdsson in terms of both goals and quality as the Icelandic diamond finished with 9 goals for the season. Swansea can learn a lot from this season and when or if Llorente is sold they should invest the money wisely, rumours are that Chelsea fancy the Swansea talisman. The defence missed Ashley Williams big time this season as they let in a staggering 70 goals and with a goal difference of -25, that really tells it’s own story. Changes in players are required and the board will be pleased that their gamble of installing Clement worked wonders. Swansea are the first team to have three managers in one season and still survive relegation and in Clement it seems they have a shrewd man and fans will be pleased to know Claude Makelele has signed a new extension deal this week on the coaching staff. Despite reverberations from Paul Clement that Swansea don’t have to sell in the summer it would be beneficial to rake in some cash so they can assemble a proper team rather than 2 or 3 good players in an OK side.
16th place. Burnley. 6 out of 10. Sean Dych’s men had a pretty decent season and ended up on the magic 40 points, the alleged safety point that if you reach it you shouldn’t be relegated, in theory. Burnley with their limited resources were a few places better than 16th though and never appeared to be in any danger of being relegated. Dych is in command of a good ship although one of their Captains Joey Barton won’t be there after placing 12 million bets on a ball boy to score the opening goal of next season for Crystal Palace against Barcelona. Barton’s 18 month ban for illegal betting means understandably the 34 year old has been released by Burnley so Dych needs to be clever in the transfer market. Wouldn’t John Terry be ideal as a replacement although Terry would probably go to West Ham if given the chance. The defence funnily enough hasn’t been the problem this season, it’s scoring goals that is the problem. Only 39 goals scored in 38 games isn’t enough to get them to proper mid table so another striker is needed. Sam Vokes did fine with his 10 goals but they need an out and out goalscorer and although Gray chipped in with 9 goals Dych should be looking at a renowned goalscorer possibly from the lower leagues.
17th place. Watford. 5 out of 10. Watford started the season so well and then just plummeted. One place above the relegation zone looks bad but again in reality just like Burnley, they never looked in any trouble to ever face the prospect of relegation. Their position looks worse due to Swansea and Palace having great runs at the end of the season and overtaking them. The manager Walter Mazzarri quit before the last home game but still oversaw it and looked a pained figure as Watford went down 5-0 to Manchester City and it seems the Watford fans were more than happy to see him go. Mazzarri didn’t help himself though, particularly as he kept Hornet’s legend Troy Deeney on the sidelines for half the season and Deeney still got into double figures! Take away Deeney and Watford would have been in even more deep water with Capoue the next highest scorer with a paltry 7 goals over the term. From 7th position on December 5th to 17th on the last day of the season the Vicarage Road outfit will be massively disappointed. A new manager and a new start for Watford one would think and as I write this incredibly Marco Silva the former Hull boss has just been named as the new man. Not the worst choice Watford could have made.